The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), on Tuesday said that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the declaration of Zamfara State as a “no-fly zone” as part of efforts to tackle the security challenges being witnessed in the state. Mr Monguno added that the President also approved the recommendation that mining activities in the state should stop immediately. He said, “The President has approved, based on our recommendations, the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in Zamfara with immediate effect until further notice. “He has directed the Minister of Defence and the National Security Adviser to deploy massive military and intelligence assets to restore normalcy to that part of the country. “He has also approved that Zamfara State should be declared ‘a no-fly zone” with immediate effect,” Mr Monguno said. He added that Mr Buhari has directed security officials to clamp down on all those behind the security challenges being witnessed in the state and across the country. He said some people were already under surveillance.

Nigeria has received nearly four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, Unicef and WHO. COVAX shipped 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, arrived from Mumbai to Abuja around 11.30 am. According to a statement from the United Nations in Nigeria, the arrival marked a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally. UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said, “The UN Country Team in Nigeria reiterates its commitment to support the vaccination campaign in Nigeria and help contain the spread of the virus. “The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja today marks a milestone for the COVAX Facility in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021.” The National Primary Health Care Development Agency had said it would commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers. “This is a landmark moment for the country and the COVAX Facility’s mission to help end the acute phase of the pandemic by enabling equitable access to these vaccines across the world. We are glad to see Nigeria is amongst the first receiving the doses from COVAX, thanks to the excellent level of preparedness put in place by the Government of Nigeria,” Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Thabani Maphosa, added.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has deepened its probe into All Progressives Congress stalwart, Bola Tinubu. To this end, the EFCC has written a letter to the Code of Conduct Bureau, requesting copies of Mr Tinubu’s asset declaration form. A copy of the letter, published by the online news site, Peoples Gazette, showed that the investigation into Mr Tinubu began last year after the removal of former EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu. The letter dated 6 November 2020, was signed by the then Lagos zonal head, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who is now the EFCC chairman. The letter read in part, “In view of the above, you are kindly requested to furnish the commission with the outstanding requested information of Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu. “This request is made pursuant to Section 38(1) and (2) of the EFCC Act 2004.” An unnamed senior EFCC official confirmed the authenticity of the letter, the Punch reported, adding that it was part of a wider probe. The official said the probe was ordered pursuant to some petitions written against Mr Tinubu since 2018 which Mr Magu had failed to act on. The source said, “The letter is authentic. The EFCC is in receipt of several petitions against Tinubu including one involving alleged fraud in Alpha Beta Consulting.” A former Managing Director of Alpha Beta Consulting, Mr Dapo Apara, had written petitions to the EFCC, accusing the firm of tax evasion and being run by Tinubu albeit by proxy. Mr Apara stated that Mr Tinubu was furious that he was looking into the company’s finances and this led to his demotion and eventual exit. Alpha Beta denied allegations, adding that he had diverted about $5 million during his time as managing director by inflating a contract that was worth about $300,000 and then diverted a separate ₦6 billion sum for personal use. The firm said it had reported Mr Apara’s alleged fraud to the appropriate authorities, but he had refused to show up and rather remained in Dubai.

At least seven states in northern Nigeria have shut schools due to the rise in abductions and banditry in the last two months. According to experts, the development may worsen the number of out of school children in Nigeria which Unicef puts at 10.5 million. This is apart from the school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The seven states are Yobe, Zamfara, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and Sokoto. It was learnt that while some of the states had shut only boarding schools, others shut all schools located in local government areas deemed volatile. Zamfara imposed the strictest measures, shutting down all its boarding schools shut till further notice in response to the abduction of schoolgirls in a  Jangabe school. On Saturday, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano ordered 10 schools located in remote parts of the state to close their doors and extended the order to five health training institutions in the state on Sunday. In Yobe on Sunday, the state government ordered boarding school students to go home amidst fear of a Boko Haram attack, exempting only SS3 students. Katsina, where the Kankara schoolboys were abducted, also shut all boarding schools on 13 December 2020. The state, which shares boundaries with Zamfara, however, announced that its schools would re-open on Tuesday. In Niger where the Kagara schoolboys were abducted, Governor Abubakar Bello shut boarding schools in four local government areas last week. Sokoto, which is also contiguous with Zamfara, shut 16 boarding schools along its borders. Both Kaduna and Jigawa states have had to shut some schools in the last two months due to banditry, according to the BBC. The spokesman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Emmanuel Hwande, said rising cases of kidnapping and school closures could increase the number of out-of-school children and derail the academic progress of pupils. He called on the government to improve security around schools.